Farmer Focus: Richard Beachell, March column

It’s great to be out crop walking again, and with good potential in the fields it’s up to me to ensure that they fulfil their promise.

There are some weeds, including cleavers, to take care of, and I have drawn up crop protection programmes for the early part of the season to protect what are very valuable commodities.

Because our wheat area has been almost solely Malacca for the past few years, a blueprint has been devised for growing the crop successfully.

Delayed nitrogen applications are a major feature in this programme, and as rust is not a problem, targeting Septoria tritici throughout the season will again be the main focus.

A T0 application with the first chlormequat/Moddus split is essential, but I disagree with the chemical companies that this is the year when higher doses will pay back handsomely. I am determined not to buy yield inefficiently.

Flag leaf remains the major timing for spending on fungicides and I will keep the crop clean as cheaply as possible until then.

An alternative approach of using crop nutrition in the form of phosphite to complement fungicide usage interests me greatly, and I shall watch the trials carried out by Chris Rigley of Yorkshire Arable Marketing with interest.

With the decline in effectiveness of the triazoles on septoria and given directives from Brussels to reduce pesticide usage, this substitution of fungicides by nutrition could be the way forward.

Also concentrating my mind is a farm rent review. Although I fully expected a rise was on the cards due to the increased fortunes in the arable sector, I hope that negotiations will allow us to agree on a figure that is both fair for tenant and landlord.

Knee-jerk reactions on either side could cause a lot of harm in the long run.

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